Perpetual student. Yup, that's me. I have two bachelor's degrees under my belt (three bachelor's theses written) and two master's degrees on the way. I have a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degrees and I'm working on Master of Arts (only thesis left, yay) and Master of Business Administration (lots left) degrees. I love to learn, life without learning would be boring.
Last week during my Research Tools class (part of my Master of Business Administration degree) I talked to one of my classmates. Actually we did an assignment together through email and finally met up face to face in class. He is originally from Egypt and this is his second Master's degree he's working on, so we had something in common. He is working full time for a large tech company, but decided to start a second Master's degree, since going to school in Finland is for free. Also, he wants to have an advantage in the job market, since he already considers himself having one disadvantage, being foreign. Now, I'm not foreign in Finland, and I never felt foreign in the U.S job market (or in the country itself, until I got pregnant), but I see his point. But what I can really relate to is why he is studying as much as he can, while he can. That's basically the biggest reason why I'm still studying; because I have the opportunity and because I can afford to. Talking to my classmate made me, once again, realize what a privilege it is to be able to study whatever you like, as much as you like.
Campus bus at the University of Vermont
Having/working on so many degrees raises a few eyebrows though. In Finland I've heard that I'm wasting tax payers' money and taking away a study place from someone else. In the U.S I've heard I'm just wasting time, I'm lazy for not making money and weird for not obsessing about my career. I do feel slightly guilty about using (not wasting!) tax payers' money, but I do hope I can return the favor when I head back to working life. As for taking someone else's study place, well, perhaps I was a better candidate for the spot? They can apply next year anyways. I definitely don't feel like I'm wasting time, and being a stay-at-home mom and a graduate student in two different universities can hardly be called lazy! As for not obsessing about my career, guilty as charged. I proudly admit my child/family comes before my career and I have confidence that despite not obsessing about it, I should be able to make a career for myself just fine.
I love the academia, but I also understand studying isn't for everyone. I do believe though, that high school diplomas are no longer enough, some sort of college or vocational education is needed, unless your career aspirations are to be a cashier or such. If, for example, my child turns out to be the non-studious type, I will urge him to get a degree of some (perhaps general) sort and then be done with school. I don't expect him to gain several degrees, I don't expect anyone else to either. I've only done so, because I really wanted to, had the time to and I've loved all the studying I've done. I don't plan on applying to any new schools though. If I will continue my studies again at some point, it'll be for a PhD. Hopefully I'll end up working in a learning environment, where I can use all these abilities.
I'm really curious what people think about education. Do you think everyone should aim to get a college degree? Do degrees in general matter? Should education be tuition free like it is in Finland? Are perpetual students like me annoying (wasting money/time etc.)?
Hope everyone is having a wonderful week!